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Stolen Normal Rockwell Painting, Now Worth $1 Million, Returned After 40 Years

Apr 11, 2017

Stolen more than 40 years ago, a folksy painting of a slumbering child by American illustrator Norman Rockwell has been returned to its rightful owners by the FBI. The unlikely recovery ends what the work’s original insurance company has called “one of the art world’s greatest mysteries for over four decades.”

Though purchased in the 1950s for a nominal sum under $100—at a time when there was little to no demand or market for Rockwell’s original paintings—the current fair market value of the work could be as much as $1 million, according to recent news reports, and cited by Chubb.

(The current auction record for a Norman Rockwell, according to the artnet Price database, is over $46 million, set at Sotheby’s in December 2013, for Saying Grace, painted in 1951. In the past decade, four works by Rockwell have fetched more than $10 million each at auction.)

The recently recovered work, an oil on canvas which dates to 1919, has been known by various titles over the years including Taking a BreakLazybones, and Boy Asleep with Hoe, according to the FBI.

“The FBI Art Crime Team investigates a broad array of art and cultural property matters. This case fell within our purview as it signified a major theft of a quintessential American artist,” FBI special agent Jacob Archer told artnet News. He and his colleague Don Asper handled the Rockwell case.